There are more and more technologies coming to market claiming to improve gym membership in some way or another. But can technology really improve gym membership?
Fitness technology has exploded in popularity over the last decade and is constantly evolving. It was only ten years ago that the first Fitbit was released, now 31 million people use it every day! But can technology improve gym membership? This article attempts to find out.
Technology can improve gym membership when it is properly implemented, and members are enthusiastic about its use. This may involve inductions in the use of the technology. A social and competitive aspect to the technology also helps.
In this article, we will look at the importance of improving gym membership, how to dominate your competition by offering more, the ways in which technology can improve gym adherence, and we will also touch on how to successfully introduce a new fitness technology to your members.
The fitness industry has just suffered through the biggest threat to its existence in history. For a large part of 2020 and 2021, gyms were completely inaccessible to the public due to a series of national lockdowns across the world.
How this will affect gym going habits going forward is hard to predict. But in the short term, and medium term, many gyms will be facing a big drop in membership numbers. There will also be fewer people who want to sign up straight away.
We’re hearing a lot of anecdotal evidence of people being anxious about the idea of returning to the gym. Partly due to fears of Covid-19 but also due to people not being quite ready to interact with many people while they exercise.
Another issue is that many people will have decided that they enjoy training at home. For a long time, the established wisdom was that training in a gym was far superior to training at home. But having no alternative led to many people discovering the joys of exercising at home.
These problems should eventually sort themselves out, and we don’t feel that we are being too optimistic when we say that gym numbers could recover in the next few years. But still, at the moment there will be many gyms who not only need new members but will also be trying desperately to hold onto their current ones.
The good news is that there are ways to do this. Improving your service, communicating better with your members, and offering them services that no other gym in your area offers are all tried and tested methods for increasing gym numbers and retaining members for longer.
As we will discuss later, it’s not enough to just have fitness technology in your gym, you need to showcase it, and you want people using it and talking about it. Once you have this though, it can make a huge difference to gym numbers.
People want something that stands out and does things differently. CrossFit is a good example of a gym that does things differently, and it has become massively successful because of how well it marketed that difference.
People would talk to their friends about it, the media would report on it, members of other gyms would either love it or hate it, but either way, it was getting noticed. Which makes it unsurprising that CrossFit has continued to grow over the years.
Fitness technology can do the same thing. Look at the way that Peloton has revolutionised home workouts. The bike itself is good but nothing special, but the technology and the community aspect has led to it getting a lot of media buzz.
Your gym doesn’t need to compete with Peloton or CrossFit, it needs to compete with the other gyms in your area. There are many ways in which you can compete. Price, customer service, facilities, parking. But fitness technology is something that will actually get people talking.
Think about the conversations a new gym member may be having with friends, family, and co-workers. “Yeah my gym has great parking” isn’t much of a conversation starter. But “My gym uses this cool app to record my workouts and compete against other members. It’s really cool” is something that might spark interest. That interest can be converted into a new member, and more money for your gym.
Gym adherence is a complicated subject. There are many factors that can affect how long someone stays in a gym. Often, if a person leaves, it may have little to do with the gym itself. You could have the best gym in the world, but there will still be people who can’t face exercising.
Three of the biggest factors for people leaving the gym are:
If people don’t feel a connection to the gym then they are much more likely to leave it. No fitness technology is going to completely fix this issue. But it can go a long way towards it.
There are plenty of ways in which fitness technology can improve gym membership, beyond just gym adherence.
A recent story that went viral online concerned two gym members (Megan and Bobby) who bonded over a cardio competition. They had not actually met each other, but there was a challenge to climb 29,035 feet on a Jacob’s ladder. Megan noticed that Bobby was outscoring her (the gym had a leader board) and decided to push herself harder.
She also (good naturedly) called out Bobby, to show off her progress. The two interacted purely via notes on the piece of paper that had the scores on it. They used this method to push each other further. Soon enough, they’d struck up a friendship. Without even meeting each other!
Both members created competing TikTok channels, and the experience soon went viral. They eventually met up and became good friends.
This story illustrates several things:
You might be thinking that this was all achieved through the use of a piece of paper rather than fitness technology. But that kind of misses the point. Making it easier and more fun for your members to compete with each other (or just compete with themselves) can massively help your business. This is a form of fitness gamification and can have a huge impact on the satisfaction of your members.
It’s not enough to just add fitness technology to your gym, you need to get your members engaged with it. The number of gyms that have got this wrong is amazing. Particularly when it comes to social media.
When Facebook first started getting big, a lot of gyms would ask their members to “like” their Facebook page. But members weren’t then encouraged to interact with the page at all, and most gyms barely put out any content.
They were doing the bare minimum, rather than going all in. These days, companies are much more aware of social media, and how important it can be. Now they encourage members to post photos, tag the gym, they put out content constantly, and this all drives up interaction.
The same thing needs to happen when you introduce a new piece of fitness technology. You need to offer an induction for every member, so that they know how to work it. You need to make it part of your introduction process for new members. Your staff needs to know exactly how to use it, and they should bring it up organically during conversations.
You also need to promote it; promote competitions that utilise the technology, offer prizes, treat it seriously, and you will see huge results over time.
But make sure you know have a plan. Without a plan or an idea of how to properly introduce new fitness technology to your members, it may go unnoticed or under appreciated.
If a new fitness technology is added to a gym it will either succeed or fail based on how the gym owners treat it. If it is properly promoted, and cleverly implemented then it can make a huge difference to gym membership retention. It could also help to increase the number of new visitors.
We hope we made a strong case for introducing a new fitness technology at your gym, but if you’re still not convinced, here are some more ways how technology improves gym membership.
At the end of the day, the implementation of fitness technology is just one string to your bow. You also need to be operating well across your business. With good customer service, a clean gym, and well maintained equipment also being vital.
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